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Are Babies Getting Marijuana From Mother’s Milk?

Medical marijuana clone plants are shown at a medical marijuana dispensary in...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Medical marijuana clone plants are shown at a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Feb. 1, 2011.

Mothers that smoke pot could be transferring components of the drug through breast milk. Researchers at UC San Diego found marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, THC, in breast milk from mothers who used the drug.

"But it doesn’t tell us how much is actually getting into the baby’s bloodstream and whether those small amounts actually have an impact on a child," said UC San Diego Professor of Pediatrics Christina Chambers.

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Chambers was the study's principal investigator. She said samples were taken from 50 different women who smoked pot daily, weekly or just occasionally.

"It’s a matter of the dose, but it’s also a matter of the size of a baby, how mature the baby is and how mature their gastrointestinal system is," Chambers said. "During a period of time when you have rapid brain development that’s continuing for the first few years of life — whether or not even small doses will have an effect — we don’t know."

It was found that THC could stay in the mothers breast milk for up to six days after use. While Chambers said research on this topic is needed, some mothers said doctors are already warning them not to smoke while breastfeeding.

"When I had the baby they were telling me to make sure that I wasn’t smoking or being around anybody who smokes," said Tiffany Busch who has a two-month-old baby named Dexter. "But it’s just anything, if it’s marijuana, cigarettes or cigars. They told me to stay away from people who are smoking or not to smoke myself."

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Researchers plan to continue tracking the mothers to try to see what effect, if any, THC has on babies.

Researchers at UC San Diego say new mothers who smoke pot may pass along marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, THC, while nursing their babies.


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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
Health Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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